Before the 2018-19 NBA season began, the Sixers reportedly turned down a trade proposal from the Phoenix Suns for backup point guard T.J. McConnell, according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com.
Fast forward 22 games into the season and the Sixers still do not want to move McConnell. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that Philly has stopped listening to trade offers for the backup point guard due to everything that has transpired with Markelle Fultz.
The NBA insider also added that the Sixers expect Fultz will return to the team and reclaim a bench role. Last week against the Suns, McConnell surprisingly played more minutes than Fultz, which had many people wondering if he had taken back the backup point job.
At the time, Sixers head coach Brett Brown did not give an answer either way on what would happen next.
“I don’t know,” he said (h/t ESPN). “Just when I think it through deeper and look at the tape and see who we’re playing, the next opponent, all those things I should do.”
A couple of days after he was benched, Fultz reportedly stepped away last week to see specialists regarding his shoulder. Without the former first overall pick available to play for the foreseeable future, McConnell by default reclaimed the team’s backup point duties behind Ben Simmons.
This season in limited action, the 26-year-old point guard is averaging a pedestrian 3.9 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. Even though his numbers might not look good on paper, McConnell brings a ton of energy on both sides of the floor.
In fact, his best game of this season came against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 10, when the Sixers completed the trade for Jimmy Butler and had only eight healthy players. McConnell scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and dished out seven assists in 34 minutes played.
The Sixers exercised McConnell’s fourth-year option at the end of last season, meaning he would make $1.6 million this season. However, his contract does not become fully guaranteed until January 10. But with everything that has gone on, it appears that it will become guaranteed.
Therefore, while Fultz is away, the Sixers will have more than enough time to evaluate McConnell’s play, as he can become a free agent in the offseason.